On Monday March 21, Jackson State University held its Pro Day, and 54-year-old head coach Deion Sanders was thrilled that representatives from more than twenty NFL teams turned out to watch his draft-eligible players. But he was less than enthused that ten of the league’s clubs—including the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns—failed to show up for the event.
So on Tuesday he took to social media to publicly shame the Ravens and the other relevant teams for not making an appearance at Jackson State, which hosted a joint Pro Day that also included players from fellow HBCUs Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State. In a tweet posted by sports reporter Jeff Lightsty Jr., Sanders went on a two-minute rant in which he first expressed his appreciation for those who attended. Then he unloaded on those who didn’t.
Deion Sanders: “Where Are Thou?’
“… There’s 32 teams in this Crayola box, therefore: the Dolphins, the Broncos, the Texans, the Bills, the Buccaneers, the Ravens, the Panthers, the Browns, the Vikings, and the Eagles … where art thou? You could have sent somebody, you could have shown up for just a little bit, but I guarantee you that you’re going to go to Mississippi State and Ole Miss,” he said, referring to the Pro Days for the two SEC schools, the former of which was held on Tuesday March 22 and the latter of which is scheduled for Wednesday March 23.
“I guarantee you that you’re going to show up there,” continued the former NFL great. “I understand, I understand. You think they have more talent. I understand. Guess what? We coming. We coming. We coming. And when we arrive, you better be here. You better be here. Because our kids deserve it. You should have sent a scout, you could have sent somebody, that’s all I’m saying. We won’t forget….
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Sanders Hopes to See 7 or More HBCU Players Drafted This Year
Of course, Sanders is well aware that Jackson State—which is part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)—has little in the way of NFL talent right now, though the gathering did feature linebacker James Houston, who transferred from Florida to JSU in 2021. Houston—who had 16.5 sacks for Jackson State last year—was not invited to the NFL Combine but is expected to be drafted.
Sanders says he expects the situation to change in coming years. In fact, in December 2021, he landed the nation’s top recruit in cornerback/wide receiver Travis Hunter.
Ultimately, he’s expecting increased recruiting success on the part of Jackson State and other HBCUs to translate into more success in the NFL draft.
“My desire is 7-10 players drafted this year,” he told NFL Network. “Then we are going to try to double that and double that and then the sky’s going to be the limit.”
Deion Sanders Has Been Head Coach at JSU Since September 2020
Sanders was hired as Jackson State’s head coach in September 2020. Last season the Tigers finished 11-2 and posted an 8-0 record in the SWAC. But his season was marred by challenging health issues.
On September 22, 2021, Sanders had foot surgery to correct an “old deformity” from a football injury—and gave a motivational speech to the doctors and nurses in the operating room before the anesthesia kicked in. Ultimately he had to have two toes on his left foot amputated due to complications from the surgery and he was hospitalized for a month in the middle of the season, this according to NFL.com.
As for his NFL career, Sanders played a total of 14 seasons in the league after the Atlanta Falcons selected him No. 5 overall in the 1989 NFL Draft. After five years with the Falcons he spent one year with the 49ers, then played five seasons with the Cowboys and one with Washington before retiring. He returned in 2004 to play two more seasons with the Ravens and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
During his career Sanders earned Pro Bowl honors eight times, and was named first-team All-Pro six times. He recorded 53 interceptions and scored a total of nine touchdowns on kick returns, as per Pro Football Reference.